U.S. Government Blocks Domain Names

Posted: Nov 27 2010, 10:26pm CST | by , in Technology News


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U.S. Government Blocks Domain Names

ICANN Censors Roughly 80 Sites

Every URL you visit ends with a '.'. You probably leave it out, but your browser completes it for you. That '.' stands for the root servers. You can't make a DNS query without shaking hands with the root servers. These all-important servers are controlled by ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.

In case you aren't aware, ICANN was created by a Presidential Mandate. While they are technically a private non-profit, they work closely with the government and do not wear the pants in that relationship.

ICANN has the power to kill any domain on the Internet. Until recently, that power was mostly theoretical. Then this happened. Acting at the behest of the Department of Homeland Security, ICANN has censored around eighty websites. You can find a full list in the TorrentFreak article.

Here's the thing. Most of those banned sites sell knock-off clothing and handbags or facilitate music swapping. None of the the murdered sites appear to be political or religious in nature, but one site completely unconnected to illegal activity was blocked. Torrent-Finder.com collects data on a bunch of different torrent sites and allows you to search all of them. It only provides links to the sites themselves.

You cannot download torrents from this website.

But it is banned.

This isn't likely to draw a great deal of public ire. All the sites involved are shady, so who cares if the government kills them for the entire world?

The precedent set by this move is worrisome though. Think about sites like Wikileaks. They are controversial, sure, but they also represent a valuable tool for whistleblowers everywhere. ICANN hasn't moved on any high profile sites yet, but the fact that they are willing to do this much has to make you wonder how much further they'll go.

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